Smog continues to cover South-east

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The Independent Online
SUMMER smog is blanketing South-east England for the third time this month. For two days running the region's air quality has fallen into the Government's 'poor' band and is forecast to remain there today, writes Nicholas Schoon.

A monitoring station in East Sussex recorded an ozone level of 99 parts per billion yesterday afternoon; air quality becomes poor above 90 parts and will affect some asthmatics and others with chest illnesses. The corrosive gas is being produced by the action of sunlight on fumes from traffic, power stations and industry, with high pressure trapping the pollution over the region.

The Department of the Environment issued a subdued smog alert but was attacked for not providing strong advice on curbing car use. It released a Government-commissioned opinion poll finding that one in 10 people had claimed to have used their cars less during the earlier July smogs.

The poll found 62 per cent of people had heard about bad air quality this month. Only a quarter had also heard Government advice to 'think about whether you really need to use your car'. The Environment Minister, Robert Atkins, said: 'This survey clearly shows that the information and advice . . . was listened to and acted upon.'

Friends of the Earth said it mattered more that three- quarters of people had not received advice to cut car use. 'The advice isn't getting through - the message has to be stronger and ministers must give more of a lead,' said FoE's air pollution campaigner, Tony Bosworth.

Asked if the Environment Secretary, John Gummer, and Mr Atkins would be forsaking their cars this weekend, the Department of the Environment replied: 'Ministers follow their own advice.'

Company cars blamed, page 5